Verbal overshadowing is the phenomenon that verbally describing a face between presentation and test can impair identification of the face (Schooler & Engstler-Schooler, 1990). This study examined the effects of articulatory suppression and distinctiveness upon the magnitude of the verbal overshadowing effect. Participants engaged in articulatory suppression or a control task whilst viewing a target face. They then either described the face or completed a distractor task before selecting the target face from a line-up. This was repeated for 12 trials. Articulatory suppression impaired identification performance overall, and reduced the negative effects of description to non-significance, whereas the control group demonstrated the standard verbal overshadowing effect. Typical faces showed verbal overshadowing, whereas distinctive faces did not. These results are consistent with the view that verbal overshadowing arises because the description of the target face creates a verbal code that interferes with a verbal code created spontaneously during encoding. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.